How to Pack for Italy in December

Hi friends! Today I am changing up my usual gluten-free-food focused travel blogs to give you tips on packing for Italy in December. I wrote this post prior to the start of the COVID-19 quarantine, but didn’t get around to posting it. Although I am not sure when traveling will become a normal part of life again, I thought I would share this post with you all to save for one day in the future. This was a trip of a lifetime with our best friends. I am definitely looking forward to the day when we can safety travel again!

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Prior to our trip, packing for Europe during the winter seemed like a daunting task. I think I did a pretty good job, so I thought it would be helpful to share my top packing tips with you. For most of our trip the weather was in the 40s-50s. There were a few days with very chilly mornings and/or evenings, but for the most part I was pretty comfortable. Speaking of comfort, with the amount of walking we did in Italy, I am happy I prioritized comfort over fashion when it comes to shoes. Achy, cold feet are not what I wanted for this trip. When it comes to clothing and jackets, I recommend planning to dress in layers. It’s also okay to re-wear outfits on your trip. If you’re traveling during the winter months, you will most likely have a coat on most of the days anyway. Another great way to get more wear out of what you pack is to stick with one color scheme {similar idea to wardrobe capsules}. I packed my go-to colors, black, beige, grey and a few piece of army green. This approach allowed me to mix and match tops with bottoms and also narrow down my shoe selection.

I LOVE the Columbia jacket I bought for this trip. I brought a JCrew Factory wool coat (similar coat here) as well, but consistently reached for my Columbia jacket. It’s light weight, warm and waterproof. I think the length is perfect and it has a great hood. It is also a bit longer in the back which I really like. I have used it a ton since we got home for our trip too. It was probably my best Black Friday purchases of 2019.

This outfit was pretty much my travel uniform for trip

Another great purchase that has gotten a ton of use are my Keds Scout boots. I wanted to make sure I had waterproof shoes for this trip, so these were a great find. I usually wear size 8 or 8.5. For these boots I went with the size 8. Originally I planned to wear foam inserts (click here) in the boots for extra comfort, but they didn’t fit well. Thankfully these shoes only took a day to break-in then were very comfortable. I should also mention that these boots are a little though to get on and off. If you have a high arch, I definitely recommend sizing up. I also can’t rave enough about my Adidas sneakers; I think they’re a must have. I wore my tan/white pair all over Italy and my feet never hurt. I think the sizing of these sneakers varies a bit between colors. I have a size 8 in the tan/white and 8.5 in the grey/white. On this trip I definitely learned the importance of good socks. Make sure your socks don’t move or slip around inside your shoes. If they do, your socks can actually be the reason to blame for blisters. In a photo below you can see all of the shoes I packed for this trip. I did not need this many; my keds, 1 pair of sneakers and slippers were really all I needed. I did not wear my black flats, suede booties or need a second pair of sneakers. For most of our trip I also wore my Quay Australia Aviators (click here).

Quay Sunglasses

For handbags and luggage, I kept it very simple for this trip. A great piece of advice a friend gave us while planning was to only bring once piece of luggage. Since we weren’t using a tour for our trip {tours usually transport, move and watch after your luggage} that meant we would need to travel across three cities with our bags. Our travels included walking through each city with our luggage, taking the train and getting through airports. This tip was a home run. Each of us had one check-on luggage and a backpack – that’s it. Limited bags made our travels much easier. The check-on luggage I used for this trip was 28 inches (good options: here or here). Packing cubes (click here) are a game changer. They helped me to keep my bag organized and neat the entire trip. I also fit a ton of stuff too. I also found a great cosmetic bag (click here) that fit a ton of toiletries. As far as handbags go, I brought a thin, light weight crossbody bag with me. It was thin enough that I could wear it under my jacket. Having my bag concealed made me feel more secure in crowed areas. My exact bags are out of stock, but this is a similar style (click here).

I think there are a few things you can bring on your trip that will make your plane ride more comfortable. A cozy blanket scarf (click here or similar here) or small light weight blanket are great for keeping you warm and snuggling up a nap sans plane freebies. Although of flights did have in-flight entertainment, I love to have a few good books on a trip. Lately I have been loving the suspenseful thrillers by Shari Lapena and A.J. Finn. Both writers created story lines that are total page turners which help the flight fly by. I am the worst when it comes to drinking water, but I know that hydration and removing your make are extra important for your skin when flying. For our flight to Italy, I decided to bring all of my skincare (click here for that blog) and makeup remover wipes. Before takeoff, I removed all of my makeup and applied a heavy moisturizer.

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The Soundview Greenport

Today’s post is all about our recent stay at the Soundview Greenport along with a travel guide to Long Island’s North Fork (aka the NoFo). We decided to spend a night at the Soundview for a belated anniversary celebration. It is located directly on the Long Island Sound with absolutely beautiful views.

The Soundview has an ideal layout for its location on the Sound. All of the rooms are water front which is awesome. I personally think this makes the Soundview a special place to stay. Even though the weather was chilly, it was so nice to enjoy the view from our room. I imagine it to be even better during the warmer months when you can sit on the patio {which was huge}. Even with the doors closed at night we could still hear the waves a bit.

The room was on the smaller side, but perfect for two with a queen bed and separate sitting area. I felt like the only flaw of the layout was that the entry door faced a main road, so it could be loud at times. If you are a light sleeper or traveling with children who will nap during the day, it may be worth bringing a sound machine. I did feel like it quieted down a lot at night once we went to bed.

Our room was recently renovated, clean and had a nautical decor vibe. We love that there was a Nespresso machine in the room along with Bridge Lane wine, North Fork Potato Chips and Tate’s cookies {for a fee}. Since we visited in November, we missed the peak season and got a more affordable nightly rate. However, I do think that it was still pricey for the off season, so I am not sure we would necessarily splurge on this spot during spring or summer. Although we opted not to bring Henry {this time} the Soundview is actually pet-friendly.

The Soundview has a bar and restaurant on site, but I would recommend skipping the Halyard for dinner. Instead get a drink there before heading into town or stop back later in the night if there is live music. The view from the bar and restaurants is just as good as the view from the rooms. All in all, the Soundview is a great spot for weekend getaway.

For a gluten-free dinner in Greenport I recommend the restaurant First and South. It is located in town and less than a 10 minute drive from the Soundview. We had our car, but I did notice there were Ubers in the area too. Almost everything on the menu is gluten-free and they do not cross contaminate the fryers. I also felt that our sever was knowledgeable about their menu and gluten-free restrictions. Bonus points in our book for the awesome dog mural on the wall – if you haven’t figured it out already, we love dogs!

While you’re making your way to the Greenport here is where we recommend you stop on your way.

* Briermere Farms: Famous for their pies (not gluten-free) and jams (gluten-free). It is a must-do on the NoFo and a great stop for local produce.
*Baiting Hallow Farm Vineyard: A small family owned winery and stable. We love their Riesling.
* LIV: Gluten-free vodka and an awesome tasting room.
* Riverhead Cider House: Tons of gluten-free cider options and room for large groups.
* Bridge Lane Tasting Room: Small, cozy and some of our favorite wine ever. I recommend the white merlot and the red blend.
* Shinn Estate Vineyard and Inn: Beautiful indoor and outdoor seating along with our favorite B&B on LI.

Bridge Lane Tasting Room
Bridge Lane Outdoor Seating – August 2019
Bridge Lane Outdoor Seating – August 2019

Baha Mar Travel Guide + Gluten-Free Tips

Hi friends! It’s been a while, but today I am excited to share a recent trip my husband and I took to the Bahamas. This was our first visit to the Bahamas and we stayed at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar. Prior to booking the trip, I didn’t know anything about the new Baha Mar area. Once I booked the trip and started sharing our plans with friends and family, I was surprised how much hype this area was getting. All of the positive feedback plus the details found in the blog world made me even more excited for this trip!

From NY, the Bahamas is a three hour direct flight which makes the Bahamas a great option for a long weekend. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt for 4 nights, but due to our flight times, we were able to enjoy just about five complete days at the resort. I booked our reservation directly through the Hyatt to make sure we earned Hyatt rewards points. The main reason that I chose the Grand Hyatt was due to the great experience we had at the Andaz Maui last year. The Andaz resorts are actually owned by Hyatt. 

I booked us a ‘king view room’ which ended up being upgraded to a suite. We didn’t ask for an upgrade, so we were pleasantly surprised when we opened the door.  Our suite had a full kitchen, living room, bedroom, washer/dryer and two balconies. It was brand new and beautifully decorated. I think the change of rooms was a result of us arriving at the resort well before our check-in time. The only downside to this room change ended up being the location of the room. We were on the 20th floor, which mean that both balconies had great views of the ocean, but also a  parking lot and the water park that is in early stages of construction. Our room was on the far west side of the West Tower. I suggest keeping this in mind when you check into the hotel, especially if the view is important to you. Also, be sure to remember that Baha Mar is a large resort. You will not be able to hear the ocean from your balcony at the Grand Hyatt, as it is set the farthest away from the beach.

Overall, we were very happy with our stay at Baha Mar. The resort is new and kept very clean. The Grand Hyatt also offers perks you may not find at other hotels. Similar to our stay at the Andaz, complementary flavored ice water and Sun Bum SPF were provided at all towel stations throughout the resort. Personally, I think this is such a nice touch.

We were only staying in the Bahamas for five days, so we new that we wanted to stay at the resort to max the relax. We at breakfast, lunch and dinner on-site. When you are planning your trip, I would recommend doing some research on the restaurants – they are not cheap. However, although food and drinks are expensive at Baha Mar, we felt that the portions were appropriately sided and the quality was excellent. We definitely felt like we got our money’s worth.

Before diving into the gluten-free travel guide portion of this blog, I will share a bit about the resort itself. Baha Mar is about a 10-15 minute car ride from the airport. It has three hotels on the grounds; Rosewood, SLS and Grand Hyatt. Each hotel has its own vibe and all are beautiful in their own way. The Rosewood is the most expensive and exclusive of the three. The pool is reserved for only Rosewood guests, but we were able to walk around the grounds. It is so beautiful and serene! The SLS appeared to be the smallest of the three hotels and appeals to a bit younger crowd. Also keep in mind that the west side of the SLS will face the waterpark which is currently under construction. The SLS pools are exclusive to SLS guests with loud music at all times. On Saturdays, one SLS pool hosts a pool party from 11am – 5pm complete with a blaring DJ, champagne and fog machines. If you couldn’t tell already, this is not my scene. The music from this pool party could be heard three pools away at the Grand Hyatt. But hey, if pool parties are your thing, you go girl. If they’re not, I suggest going to the beach on Saturdays where the music can’t be heard. The third resort is the Grand Hyatt. It is the largest of the three and has the most amenities. All Grand Hyatt pools, spa and casino are available to Baha Mar guests. Additionally, the bars and restaurants throughout all three hotels are available to all guests. 

We had some delicious dinners on this trip. I have to mention how well trained all of the waitstaff was at each restaurant. Each restaurant has is own unique cuisine, bar menu and all around vibe. The staff at each restaurant {or bar} was very knowledgeable on the menu offered. We also felt that everyone who helped us was happy to do so and very friendly. Great service just made the trip that much better. I would recommend making reservations ahead of time {and possibly before you arrive} because the restaurants book up quickly. Our room had a tablet that allowed us to easily book dinners reservations. This was actually a really nice touch because it was Baha Mar guide at our fingertips.

On to the food! In my research prior to this trip, I had a pretty tough time finding gluten-free recommendations. With Baha Mar being a new resort and the Grand Hyatt being a higher-end hotel, I was pretty confident I would have a positive experience on my search for gluten-free meals during our stay. Although not all restaurants have gluten-free options on displayed on their menu, everywhere we went was accommodating and welcomed my questions.

Must Eats at Baha Mar

  • 3 Tides: The Salmon was delicious and they offered gluten-free bread with honey butter.
  • Fi’ Lia: AMAZING! I had one of the most simple yet delicious pasta dishes ever; Cacio e Pepe with gluten-free penne. I have been trying to re-create it since we got home.
  • Carna: Mary’s Organic Chicken with a side of fries (be cautious of the fries).
  • Cafe Mademoiselle: Very limited gluten-free options, but great coffee.
  • Drift Bar and Pool: Gluten-free buns for burgers and sandwiches, salad and pizza (although I would skip the pizza).
  • El Jefe: Guacamole, salas and chips

Must Drink – Rosewood, SLS, Library Rosewood

  • Costa: Located on the grounds of the Rosewood and has the most serene outdoor dining area. We enjoyed a glass of wine in the outdoor bar area and agreed that it was one of the best locations at Baha Mar. The restaurant is surrounded by coy ponds and tropical trees. Although we didn’t dine here, sitting at this bar made me 100% feel like I was on vacation. A MUST see!
  • H20: A great swim up pool bar at the Grand Hyatt. My husband suggests traveling with a beer coozey to keep your drink cool at the pool.
  • Manor Bar: Located in the Rosewood. This bar has an cozy, old school feel and every liquor I could think of. The bar tender on the night we visited was top notch, and was able to make great recommendations on the wine as well.
  • Monkey Bar: Located in the lobby of the SLS, which is beautiful! There are tons of seating areas for large or small crowds. Have a drink here to start or end your night.

The only restaurant we were not happy with on our trip was The Swimming Pig. We felt that the service was slow, the food wasn’t great and overall it wasn’t our kind of atmosphere. I would recommend skipping this restaurant on your stay because there are many other excellent options.

Thanks for stopping by! If you visit Baha Mar, let me know in the comments! Also, don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest and Instagram for new updates.


Between our trip to the Baha Mar and putting together this blog, the Bahamas was significantly impacted by hurricane Dorian. From resort staff to the sweetest taxi driver who took us to the airport, so many people made our vacation a great one. We are sadden to think that many of them had homes, friends and family impacted by the hurricane. If you would like to donate, you can do so directly through the Baha Mar website (click here).